Illinois Politics

Digital driver's licenses, ID cards could come to Illinois, and here's how to get them

The legislation was unanimously approved by both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly

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NOTE: The above video was produced prior to the Senate's approval of the legislation

Digital driver's licenses and ID cards could soon be a reality in Illinois after the General Assembly unanimously passed a measure and sent it to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's desk.

The bill, introduced by State Rep. Kam Buckner, passed the House unanimously in late May, and the Senate also passed the measure with no opposition by a 58-0 margin prior to the conclusion of the spring legislative session, according to the General Assembly's legislation tracker.

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias is a backer of the legislation, which he says dovetails with the office's work to streamline and modernize its operations while making life easier for Illinois drivers and residents.

“This is the future,” he told The Pentagraph. It’s all part of the modernization of the office.”

According to the text of the legislation, all Illinois residents eligible to receiver a driver’s license or an identification card would be able to obtain those documents in an electronic format via a mobile app. Residents and motorists would be able to use them in any situation calling for identification, including during traffic stops and when presenting identification at retailers.

At least 10 other states already offer mobile driver’s licenses, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. Their guidelines were used to help craft the program in the legislation, addressing security concerns and other issues.

Some groups, including the ACLU, have expressed concerns about the use of mobile identification documents, citing fears that law enforcement could search a person’s phone without proper consent. Lawmakers explicitly prohibited law enforcement officers from searching through a phone’s contents after viewing the mobile identification card as part of a series of amendments made to the bill after its introduction in the General Assembly.

Another concern had been that entities would require the use of electronic documents, but that is also prohibited, allowing motorists and residents to use either digital or physical cards.

As for whether or not there will be a cost involved, the proposed bill says that the fee to install the application “shall not exceed $6," but did not establish a final cost, as the legislation mandates that the Secretary of State's Office put together the program to allow use of the identification via a specially designed mobile app.

According to officials with the TSA, the agency does accept mobile identification at airports, but still encourages fliers to carry physical ID cards as well.

As for REAL ID-compliant cards, mobile identification is also able to be used in those situations, but again officials urge residents to bring physical copies of their identification in the event of any issues.

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